Second-half show again proves vital for Chichester

editorial image

THIS absorbing contest against Sidcup was similar to last week as Chichester had a disappointing first half but gave an outstanding performance in the second to record their 17th win from their 20 games this season and another bonus point.

They had trailed 13-21 at the break but then eclipsed their strong opponents, scoring 25 points without reply.

The margin was five tries, two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal to two tries, one conversion and three penalties to win 38-21.

Basingstoke also managed a bonus point at Haywards Heath and the race continues.

Jack Bentall was unavailable so Tim Cook moved to inside centre, Chris Johnson replaced the injured Ben Polhill at flanker and Moses Kasujja was captain.

Within a minute, Sidcup scored a try – to the horror of Chi’s vocal travelling supporters. A kick ahead was charged down by a Sidcup centre who quickly fed his left winger with a clear run in and around the posts and the follow-up was converted.

On five minutes, a high kick to the right wing was followed by Tom Jackson who tackled his man into touch. The forwards rucked well from the lineout and the fly half dropped a neat goal.

Cook made a break and good handling released left winger Ben Robson who released the powerful Johnson to go over at the left corner and the Blues led 8-7.

A promising driving maul was stopped and turned over amid Sidcup returning to the other end to slot two more penalties to make it 13-8.

Full-back Toby Golds caught a high ball bravely and the fly half made a scintillating break along the right touch, kicking over the top and following. The full back knocked the ball into the air from the bounce and a fine solo try was completed to level the scores.

Phil Veltom received a harsh yellow card and Sidcup slotted the resulting penalty. With 14 men, Chi tried to avoid another home score by attacking. The fly half went through after a charge down but, with the line at his mercy and five metres out, the ball fell from his grasp.

Sidcup countered with a sweeping move ending with an accurate kick over the try line at the right flag which was touched down for their second try. Sadly for Chi, the referee did not see the crossing in the centre which obstructed a tackle and opened a gap.

In the second half, Phil Dickin came on from the bench as Chi attacked within ten metres. Sidcup put-in to the scrum but Blues shoved them back, the ball went loose and Veltom pounced to touch down, and the conversion took them a point behind at 21-20.

This was the crucial moment which changed the game completely.

Chi began firing on all cylinders, the scrum was conquered and Nick Blount and Tom Crawford asserted themselves in the lineout.

Sidcup faced a torrid last 20 minutes as excellent passing by Dane Gingell and Billy Toone put the hard-running Johnson away to score the bonus-point try at the left corner.

Veltom thundered 15 metres before a Sidcup prop infringed to stop progress and was sin binned. The penalty was kicked and for the fourth consecutive game Chi had arrived at 31 points.

Cook made a lovely break on the 22 and tried a second step inside to beat a last tackle but failed with two unmarked men outside him in support.

The experienced Ash Wheeler came on at prop after long absence and Chi rounded things off with a superb fifth try. The ball was spun out to the right and good hands by Cook, Sam Renwick and Dickin gave space to Jackson to fully stretch his legs and zoom over at the right corner.

Next week is a rest weekend and the next game is against Old Colfeians on March 2 at Oaklands Park (3pm ko).